Kendrick Lamar’s Reaction to Police Brutality: ‘Rage Is The Perfect Word for It’

By Sameer Rao Dec 15, 2015

After a year of near-universal acclaim for "To Pimp A Butterfly," including seeing his songs used as anthems by those protesting state and White supremacist violence, Kendrick Lamar is taking a long, pensive look back at 2015. 

The Compton MC is on the cover of XXL magazine’s winter 2015 issue, in which he offered his own reflections on being an icon, police brutality and his family. The issue comes a year after he penned his own cover story for XXL’s winter 2014 issue. 

While the story won’t be available until it hits stands on December 22, XXL offered a few poignant passages. Among them, Lamar speaks about the increased attention on police violence and his own experiences as compared to those of Eric Garner and Michael Brown:

The past few years or so has been very politically charged and controversial. From Trayvon Martin, to Eric Garner to Michael Brown and issues of police brutality and racism and for so many other reasons. All of it has really struck a nerve with me because when you experience things like that personally and you know the type of hardships and pain that it brings first-hand, it builds a certain rage in you. It brings back memories of when I’m 16 and the police come kicking the door in. They don’t care that I’m a little boy and they stumped me in my back two times and they dragged me out the house and have us all handcuffed. It brings back those memories. Memories of losing loved ones. It brings back some of the most painful memories and deepest thoughts of real life situations that I didn’t even want to address on good kid. Or wasn’t ready to. Rage is the perfect word for it.

Lamar is also frank about the pressures of being a cultural icon and the fear of power that comes with that responsibility:

I know I’m chosen. I know I’m a favorite. I know in my heart there’s a whole other energy and leadership side of me that I have probably run from my whole life. How much power do I want? How much can I handle? That’s the question I keep asking myself. ’Cause when you are a voice for the youth, nothing can stop you. The youth is what changes things. Can I lead that? Should I? I get confused because people are championing me to be that vocal point and it’s a challenge for me to be that because I have some fear of that type of power. This goes back to me being who I naturally am or who think that I am now, that 28-year-old kid that’s kind’ve a recluse. But 28 is old enough for me to figure out who I am and have that power at the same time, that’s the battle and it’s a trip.

Read more over at XXL’s website